Princess Bride impatience via Giphy.com The tax filing season just opened yesterday, Monday, Jan. 24. But lots of folks have already filed the 2021 taxes, most of them because they are expecting refunds. And they're already wondering when those refunds will arrive. It's a valid question, especially since millions of taxpayers are still awaiting refunds from their 2020 returns. The Internal Revenue Service said that as of as of Dec. 4, 2021, it still had nearly 7 million unprocessed individual returns from the 2020 tax year. What does that mean to this year's filing? The IRS says it will work... Read more →


If the IRS letter about your third COVID economic impact payment or advance Child Tax Credit has the wrong amount, the agency says to file anyway, using your "best information." (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels) Did the letter you got from the Internal Revenue Service about last year's economic impact payment (EIP) or advance Child Tax Credit money have your amount(s) wrong? The Internal Revenue Service says don't let that dissuade you from filing your 2021 tax return. In fact, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, during a conference call with reporters to discuss today's start of the annual tax filing... Read more →


The standard deduction always has been appealing because it's easier. There are no receipts to collect, no Schedule A to fill out. When you add in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's standard deduction increases, even more taxpayers saw their standard amounts exceed their itemized claims. Since you always want to use the deduction method that gives you the larger claim, using the standard deduction became a no-brainer for millions more filers. Will you join this growing group of taxpayers this filing season? To help you decide, here's a look at the standard deduction amounts that can be claimed on... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service will go beyond its current multifactor authentication online access protocol when it comes to signing in to taxpayer accounts. The Internal Revenue Service continues its efforts to get more of us to interact with it electronically. It also wants to make sure those transactions are secure. So later this year, the IRS is implementing a new security protocol for folks who want to set up or manage an online taxpayer account. But it appears, at least based on anecdotal online and social media reactions, that the move might backfire. More steps to get info: Last week,... Read more →


The 2022 tax filing season officially begins on Monday, Jan. 24. Some people, however, are not convinced the Internal Revenue Service is ready. The concern isn't just about the millions of 2021 returns that will be flooding the IRS' system, but also the millions of returns the agency is still processing from the previous COVID-affected filing seasons. That backlog and continuing challenges prompted a coalition of tax practitioners and advocacy groups to write the IRS and Treasury Department, urging those leaders to "take steps to ameliorate the situation." Specifically, the representatives from 11 tax and public advocacy organizations want the... Read more →


You checked out my post on who has to file a tax return (thank you!) and confirmed that you're one of the select lucky few who doesn't have to file a 1040. But you still might want to send the Internal Revenue Service a tax return. Here are 10 such should-file situations, starting with the ones that could get you a tax refund. 1. Too much tax was withheld. Most of us have income tax amounts taken from our regular paychecks. Other sources of income also sometimes take some tax amounts off the top. When too much is withheld, you're... Read more →


Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels For some folks, the question isn't when to file, but whether they need to do so at all. It's a legitimate issue. While most of us do have to send in a Form 1040 every year, there are some situations where the Internal Revenue Service doesn't demand filing. So just who has to file a tax return? Filing requirements for most of us: Generally, if you are a U.S. citizen or resident you must consider three things when determining whether you have to file a tax return: your age, your filing status and your... Read more →


Photo by Kay Bell I'm married to a procrastinator. The most infuriating thing about it is not that he puts off things, but that occasionally he's right to not rush to finish projects. And yes, projects is a euphemism for tasks I've asked him to do. Sometimes situations change, making moot what originally looked like the right move. Other times, the delay prevents making what would have been a wrong action. And in a few cases, if a job was done on my timetable, the changed circumstances would have meant redoing it. So over the many years we've been together,... Read more →


Photo by Kay Bell The 2022 filing season is already underway for many taxpayers even though the Internal Revenue Service won't start processing their returns until Jan. 24. But these early bird filers are on to something. Here are eight reasons you might want to consider completing your Form 1040 soon. 1. To get the rest of your Child Tax Credit. Around 36 million families last year got an early tax benefit. The IRS delivered half of their 2021 tax year Child Tax Credit (CTC) in advance as monthly payments from last July through December. The maximum advance amounts were... Read more →


Photo by Andea Piacquadio from Pexels Back in olden times, taxpayers put their literal signatures on the 1040 forms they filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Now, most of us electronically sign our tax returns. Regardless of which method you use, the end result is the same. If you don't sign your tax return, it's not a valid submission. That oversight cost one expatriate couple $12,697 in tax refunds. The loss recently was affirmed the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling gets this weekend's Sunday Shout Out. I'll let you read it yourself. It's not that long (just nine... Read more →


Eager tax filers, especially those with relatively uncomplicated returns, can now take advantage of Free File. The Internal Revenue Service and Free File Alliance of tax software manufacturers are open for filers. Just go to IRS.gov, click the File Your Taxes for Free line under How can we help you?" and you're there. If you use a search engine to find free tax filing, you'll likely discover other options. You'll also probably get such offers in your email box. But the only official, IRS-sanctioned Free File option is the one on its website. 8 participants in 2022: This year, the... Read more →


IRS via Twitter The millions of taxpayers who must make estimated tax payments this month get a few more days to come up with the money. Since the usual Jan. 15 deadline is Saturday, and the next business day is Monday's MLK Day federal holiday, the fourth estimated deadline for 2021 payments is Tuesday, Jan. 18. Taxes on self-employment earnings: More than 20 million individuals make these extra tax payments each year. They generally total four, with the payment amounts reflecting earnings that aren't subject to withholding received during four segments of the tax year. Estimated taxes typically are paid... Read more →


You're expecting a refund, so you're planning to file your tax return soon. Wait. You might want to take a step or two back. First, you need to make sure you have all the information you need to properly fill out your 2021 Form 1040. You can get an idea of that material in my post examining some common tax statements you need to complete your filing. Second, you need more than paperwork. You need to take a good look at your personal situation and answer some questions. The responses could affect your filing. This checklist can help. Start with... Read more →


There aren't any surprises in National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins' annual report to Congress on the 2021 filing season. Something else that's not surprising is that Collins warns that things aren't likely to get any better for taxpayers, tax pros, or the Internal Revenue Service this year. Unprecedented tax annus horribilis: "Calendar year 2021 was surely the most challenging year taxpayers and tax professionals have ever experienced," wrote Collins in the prologue of the required report issued today, Jan. 12. The problems included long processing and refund delays, difficulty reaching the IRS by phone, correspondence that went unprocessed for... Read more →


I got my first tax statement today, a 1099 for some freelance work I did last year. That's just one of the documents that millions of taxpayers are awaiting so they can file their tax year 2021 returns. In addition to income statements, such as the 1099-NEC I got, 1099s with details on investment earnings, and W-2 forms for folks with wage-paying jobs, there are beau coup documents reporting tax-related transactions. Among the most common are forms detailing home related mortgage interest and taxes paid from escrow accounts, retirement account distributions, prize and gambling winnings, and in some cases, health... Read more →


It's official. The Internal Revenue Service just announced that it will begin accepting and processing 2021 individual tax returns on Monday, Jan. 24. Yes, I realize some eager taxpayers have already e-filed their personal tax year 2021 Form 1040s. That's OK. But you still have to wait. The IRS has placed them in a holding queue, and won't start processing them until the official Jan. 24 start of the tax season. But at least that tax task is off your 2022 to-do list. And yes, more will file on Jan. 14, which is when the IRS' partnership with some tax... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) unit is my favorite section of the tax agency. Part of it is because I've always been fascinated by law enforcement. Add tax geek to the mix, and it's a natural fit. My investigative bent was bolstered when my first full-time job as a young newspaper reporter on the cop beat. Those West Texas police officers tried their best to intimidate and gross out this young woman. They failed. Many times, solving a crime also is like unravelling a mystery, especially when the crooks are inventive. As a life-long mystery fan, that component... Read more →


Photo: United Van Lines Our house is at that age where it needs a lot of care to continue to be comfortable. That's led to more frequent discussions about whether to stay or go. I'm the nester in our family, and was the one who pushed for buying our place almost 17 years ago. But a couple of times recently, like when our main HVAC unit needed to be replaced, I've argued for just selling and letting the new owners deal with it. The hubby has been able to talk me down so far. He also knows that as much... Read more →


Updated Monday, Jan. 10, to add the just-announced start of the individual taxpayer filing season on Jan. 24. Free File will open earlier, on Jan. 14. With 2022's arrival came our new calendars. It also means that we need to mark some key tax dates. For the last couple of years, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc with the tax dates we were used to meeting. There are some changes in 2022, too, but most of them are due to the traditional way the Internal Revenue Service deals with tax deadlines falling on weekends or federal holidays. The affected due dates get... Read more →


A new year means a new federal tax filing season, but most states collect some type of income tax, too. And when 2022 arrived, so did a variety of tax changes across the United States. In many, it was tax cuts, even with the effects of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic posing some revenue problems. The unanticipated tax cuts mean that states are likely to face difficult budget choices in the future. But hey, lawmakers, especially in election years, tend to think about the here and now, leaving future fiscal issues to the future and those around then to deal with... Read more →